Presidential election turmoil in Senegal as candidates push for April 2 vote

Fifteen out of the twenty approved candidates for Senegal’s presidential poll, initially set for February 25, have jointly advocated for a new vote no later than April 2. President Macky Sall’s last-minute decision to delay the election has plunged the country into its most significant political unrest in decades.

President Sall, whose term officially concludes on April 2, justified the postponement just hours before the official campaign was scheduled to kick off. Despite the top constitutional body overturning the decision last week, uncertainties linger regarding whether the election will take place before Sall leaves office and if the same candidates will participate.

The contenders, including prominent figures like detained anti-establishment candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye and former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall, expressed bitterness over the lack of action by authorities since the Constitutional Council’s ruling. They signed a letter urging that the new polling date and the presidential handover occur by April 2, insisting that the list of 20 approved candidates in January remains unchanged.

Notably, Prime Minister Amadou Ba, the presidential camp’s candidate, did not sign the letter.

Adding to the complexity, one of the two women candidates, Rose Wardini, a gynaecologist and civil society activist, announced her withdrawal due to concerns about her dual French-Senegalese nationality, which violates Senegal’s constitution.

The situation further intensified with Karim Wade, son of ex-president Abdoulaye Wade, excluded from the race due to his dual nationality. Accusing two judges of corruption, he became a focal point for the presidential camp’s justification for the election delay.

In an unexpected twist, a coalition supporting Wade’s potential bid is now pinning hopes on President Sall’s promised dialogue. Amadou Lamine Thiam, chairing the pro-Wade parliamentary group, declared their full participation in the national dialogue, anticipating Wade’s return from exile in Qatar and predicting a “brilliant victory” in the election.

Senegal remains on edge as the political landscape becomes increasingly uncertain, leaving citizens and the international community eagerly awaiting further developments.

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